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: As Russia bombards Ukraine and closes in on major cities — 7 ways you can donate food, medicine and shelter

While governments stack up financial sanctions against Russia as punishment for its invasion of Ukraine, everyday people are looking for ways to help besieged Ukrainians.

Around one million Ukrainians have fled Ukraine, population 43.7 million, for neighboring countries since Russian tanks and troops rolled in last week, Filippo Grandi, the United Nations’ high commissioner for refugees, said.

“I have worked in refugee emergencies for almost 40 years, and rarely have I seen an exodus as rapid as this one,” he said. “Hour by hour, minute by minute, more people are fleeing the terrifying reality of violence. Countless have been displaced inside the country.”

“And unless there is an immediate end to the conflict, millions more are likely to be forced to flee Ukraine,” he said. “Inside Ukraine, our staff — and other humanitarians — are working where and when they can in frightening conditions.”

News of the invasion sparked a 3,569% increase in donations to charities engaged in the Ukraine humanitarian response via the charity ratings website Charity Navigator. Many donors used the site’s Giving Basket tool, which lets users donate to multiple charities at once, according to Kevin Scally, chief relationship officer at Charity Navigator.

The mounting human toll makes it especially crucial that donor money goes where it’s needed most — and quickly, said Laurie Styron, executive director of CharityWatch, a nonprofit organization that analyzes charities’ financial statements and tax filings to determine how much money goes to overhead and how much goes to the organization’s cause. 

Read also: Airbnb will house 100,000 Ukraine refugees for free

“When people open their hearts and wallets to make donations in response to tragic events like those currently happening in Ukraine, they want their donations to be used now, to ease suffering now,” she told MarketWatch.  The organization has compiled its own list of charities that can address those needs.  

Organizations sometimes take in money during crises and use the funding to build up their cash reserves. Now is not that time for that type of strategy, Styron said.

“The fact is, when people see people suffering, they feel empathy and feel compelled to do something now to help end that suffering now. Charities need to honor those intentions,” Styron said.

Here are some organizations donors can consider for immediate assistance and long-term recovery in Ukraine. 

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

The U.N. agency focused on assisting displaced people all over the world has raised approximately $25 million for Ukrainian refugees through an emergency appeal ,a spokeswoman said. “All funds are being used to support scaled up emergency operations inside Ukraine and in neighboring countries,” said spokeswoman Kathryn Mahoney.

The agency has 115 staffers in Ukraine and another 100 in the region. Blankets, sleeping mats, sleeping bags, tents, solar lamps and baby kits are some of the relief supplies the agency is sending to Moldova for distribution. The supplies are enough for at least 10,000 Mahoney said.

Grandi, the U.N. refugee agency chief, said Monday on Twitter
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he will keep pressing for more donor contributions.

Save the Children

The organization says it is “gravely concerned for children in Ukraine, Afghanistan and around the world who might be caught in the middle of armed conflict, forced to flee their homes and exposed to injury, hunger and sub-zero temperatures.”

Catholic Relief Services

The organization says it is working with partner organizations in Ukraine and neighboring countries to offer shelter, food, hygiene supplies, transportation and counseling.

World Central Kitchen

The organization focused on getting food and hot meals to crisis areas across the globe is now in Ukraine and bordering countries. Chef José Andrés, the organization’s founder, posted a  video from Hrebenne in Poland and spoke of food served hot and cooling off quickly in the cold.

Center for Disaster Philanthropy

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy gets money to local community and non-governmental organizations that stay focused on a place’s recovery after man-made and natural disasters, even as public attention turns elsewhere.

It has set up a Ukraine recovery fund that has raised approximately $300,000 so far, said Patricia McIlreavy, the organization’s president and CEO.

She anticipates the number will grow as more donors, large and small, get a greater sense of the conflict’s severity and where recovery will be needed most in the weeks, months and years to come.

“It’s hard sometimes to think about recovery when you’re in the middle of the event,” she said.

But the organization always tries to remind everyone, no matter the type of disaster or conflict, “that there will always be a recovery, there needs to be a recovery and there are things we can start doing now with a recovery mindset that will help this community come back equitably and faster if we can focus on it now.”

Consider donating crypto

Donating cryptocurrency has become increasing popular — in part because it can provide a double tax break — and it’s especially useful in places or situations where traditional financial systems are inaccessible. 

The Ukrainian government has received more than $20 million in cryptocurrency donations, by one count. The crypto donation site The Giving Block has compiled a list of nonprofits working in Ukraine that accept bitcoin BTCUSD and ethereum ETHUSD, and has also established an emergency fund that will split donations between several nonprofits.

Don’t forget about employer matches

One easy way to make your donation go further is to have your employer match your charitable donation, a perk that’s offered by many companies. The workplace giving platform Benevity, which handles employee donations for more than 800 companies including Google, Levi’s and Starbucks, has set up pages where donors can quickly find vetted groups working with people affected by the Ukraine crisis. Because of sanctions and the suspension of currency markets in Ukraine, users will not be able to support any nonprofits located in Russia, Belarus or Ukraine, a Benevity spokeswoman noted. Donors can find U.S.-based groups here; U.K.-based groups here; and Canada-based groups here.

“These are organizations that are providing food, medicine, shelter and other necessities to people on the ground, or are or assisting with refugee settlement outside of the country,” said Sona Khosla, Benevity’s chief impact officer. “While it can be paralyzing trying to figure out which nonprofits to support, we encourage everyone to find a way to support the people who are counting on us in this time of desperate need.”

To find out if your company will match your charitable donation, check with your human resources office or corporate social responsibility officer.

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